The Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that it was the intention of the organization not to re-sign Shawn Thornton for the 2014-15 season. On July 1st, Shawn Thornton will be a free agent in the NHL. “Today I met with Shawn and we had a good meeting,” offered Chiarelli after the announcement was made. “I had informed him that we wouldn’t be re-signing him. It was good in the sense that we talked about the time Shawn has spent here. He has been here for seven years so he’s been here almost from the beginning and I told him he was one of the most significant acquisitions we made for[1.)] because of the role that he played and the [2.)] the person that he is.”
“I wished him luck and I’m sure he’ll have success with his next team.”
Here is the post-announcement video courtesy of the Boston Bruins.
For a lot of reasons, Shawn Thornton’s career seemed as improbable as the career path taken by Tim Thomas. Both players spent a long time trying to find that permanent NHL slot. Many of the Bruins’ spent their time in the major juniors or the AHL. Shawn Thornton spent a year working in a steel mill. He almost gave up hockey to pursue a career in law enforcement. He persevered and earned NHL berths in the Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks (where he won his first Stanley Cup in 2007), and the Bruins. He joined the franchise during the 2007-08 season and never looked back. Thornton has been a fourth-line forward who brought a lot of energy and physical skill to the team.
Thornton’s primary role for the organization was to be the Black and Gold’s enforcer. He racked up seven hundred forty eight minutes in penalties in his time as a Bruin (an average of one hundred and eight minutes a season). Thornton’s skill set meant he wasn’t going to see many minutes for the Bruins, but he did have a few other surprises for those who poked the bear. He put up seventy six points (thirty four goals) in his seven seasons for Boston. His career best was in 2010-11 (you know, that year where they won it all) where had twenty points (ten goals – both personal bests).
The Bruins will likely move Kelly to the center the fourth line. There is already talk that Gregory Campbell will likely end up the thirteenth forward. Daniel Paille will probably be promoted to the third line. With Shawn Thornton’s departure, it’s the end of the Merlot Line.
Shawn Thornton’s chances in free agency may not be that great. He’s presently thirty six, and a lot of NHL teams will not be looking to sign a pugilist to their roster (well, maybe the Buffalo Sabres). Thornton did confirm that he would still live in Boston. It’s become a home to him and his family, and he’s made himself a pillar in the community.